• Paraquat was first produced in 1961 and was first registered in 1964 in the US for weed control and crop desiccation; however, it is categorized as highly toxic through all routes of exposure by the EPA. However, it still remains one of the most popular herbicides on the market.
• As paraquat is highly toxic, it is only available in the United States for commercially licensed users. Other toxic herbicides like Roundup, now linked with cancer, are available both commercially and to regular consumers.
Recent History of Paraquat-Related Health Concerns in the US
• In 2011, the Environmental Health Perspectives journal published a study stating Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease are “positively associated.”
• In 2012, the Journal of Movement Disorders publishes a study that indicates some individuals might be over 10 times as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease if they are exposed to paraquat and have certain genetic variations.
• In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces it will further explore the growing evidence of the larger health risks associated with paraquat usage and exposure. The Nature Chemical Biology journal publishes a study that same year on the possible mechanism of how paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease by causing oxidative stress, a known factor in the development of the disease.
• In 2017, the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council strongly urges the EPA to remove paraquat from the US market by denying re-registration of the herbicide.
• Most recently, The Protect Against Paraquat Act of 2019 was introduced into Congress — if passed it would attempt to protect workers from developing Parkinson’s disease by removing paraquat from the US market as a herbicide.